The moment the teacher became the student…

Joelle’s brother and his 9-year old twin sons spent the weekend at our house and it was not only a fantastic weekend with them, it was also inspirational as I learned something from them.

While they were over, they had brought their guitars and amps and we were playing in my studio. I was also giving them guitar lessons and a bit of homework exercises to not only improve their picking co-ordination, but to also improve their songwriting abilities. Not that I’m this great songwriter or anything. They simply wanted to know how I started writing songs, so I gave them the same challenge that I was presented with when I wrote my first song.

However, the real lesson came for me when Joelle was doing a photo shoot with them and their guitars. Their dad always has them clean and polish their guitars as well as wipe their strings. The results of this showed in the photo shoot as their guitars were beautiful in colour. If anything, it made me ashamed as here I have my favourite 30-year old guitar that I cannot recall polishing even once. Even worse was that I showed it to them, corroded strings, salt deposits and all. I was embarrassed.

I took a lesson from them and yesterday, I removed all of the old strings from my favourite guitar and started by rubbing lemon oil on the fretboard. I then rubbed on some guitar polish on the finish and cleaned the entire guitar. I even went under the bridge and in almost every hard to reach area. I then put a brand new set of strings on it and reset the intonation on the bridge. When I was done, it looked practically like the guitar I bought 30 years ago.

The real reward came in the playing. I don’t think I could ever remember that guitar feeling as good as it did to play. Not to mention that I can’t recall it ever sounding better. That guitar definitely reclaimed itself as my favourite electric guitar. I owe it all to my nephews for having been able to rediscover this.

M-Audio: YER OUTTA HERE!! Make room for Mackie!

I hit my breaking point with M-Audio this past week. They put out drivers for every Firewire product except for their “flagship” control surface, the ProjectMix I/O. How do I know? Because I own a ProjectMix. Or, should I say, I owned a ProjectMix. As of last night, I finally went down to my music dealer with my ProjectMix in hand and traded it in for a Mackie Control Unit. It was the best move I ever made.

In the beginning, I lulled by the ProjectMix having both a control surface and audio interface on it and I was thinking that I could expand my inputs from 24 to 34 along with plugging my guitar or bass into it and then mix down. At first it seemed like a good idea. Why? I don’t know because I already have 24 great inputs that I can already use. Not to mention that the thing already worked with Logic and I was stoked.

However, the honeymoon didn’t last as M-Audio’s drivers began to suck worse and worse and the thing became less and less responsive with Logic. I had to do these weird button combinations in order to get it to do some regular workflow stuff in Logic. Not only that, I had to change various control surface commands in Logic just so that it would get along with the ProjectMix. This became a huge problem when Logic would crash… it would reset my control surface commands back to the defaults which became problematic between the ProjectMix. The screen started throwing up garbage and some of the faders never responded until I move banks around. Then it got totally bad once Leopard came out. It has been well over six months and M-Audio still hasn’t got a working driver out for the ProjectMix. Their beta was nothing but a bone… and a very bad one indeed. It wasn’t even beta… it was alpha! Total crap! They have a ton of bull… and no meat!

Then, I really didn’t get to notice just how bad their audio interface is until I plugged in my ART TubeFire 8 into my MOTU 24I/O and plugged my guitar into that. Talk about presence vs. existence. Everything was alive. That basically sealed my decision that I really need is a good working control surface… and the ProjectMix isn’t it.

Plugging in my new Mackie board was total night and day. It responded and Logic automatically knew it was there. No contorted moves to get it to do things. Just a simple button press and its there. Logic’s default commands work fantastic with the Mackie. Everything is in its logical place and is totally responsive. I rarely ever have to take my eyes off the screen. I even love the jog wheel. And… I get more functionality right out of the box and it’s expandable. I don’t know why I didn’t get this in the first place. I would have never found myself in this situation. This is my board! I can’t wait to really mix with it.

Don’t go away mad… JUST GO AWAY!

Some people just don’t get it. Here’s why:

Apple just released a new update to Logic 8 (8.0.2). Prior to that, an band of trolls were whining in Apple’s user-to-user forum that Logic is dead and Apple has killed Logic, just because they haven’t gotten a software update every 15 minutes or so. Not to mention that they are talking about going from Logic to Pro Tools. Even worse is that they mention it at least 10 times a week or so. Now that the update is out, and with a whole grocery list of fixes, these same trolls are complaining that Apple doesn’t care because one of their problems didn’t get fixed. And, again, these same trolls are going on the forum that Apple has failed them and they’re moving to Pro Tools.

Yeah… RIGHT!!

If you’re gonna go to Pro Tools, then GO! It’s just a DAW and if it works for you, then more power to you and your music. Quit making noise on a user to user forum. They think that if they scream real loud in a public forum, someone is just going to go “I’m leaving too”. Ain’t gonna happen! A lot of us work very well in Logic and we’re not going to leave just because some troll is having a whine and cheese party on the forums. It has nothing to do with being an Apple fan-boy. It has everything to do with the fact that it DOES work. If anything, I have the music to show for it… both for myself and for my clients. If it didn’t work, would I stick around? I’d leave in a heartbeat. Music is something I love… I will not let anything turn music into something I hate!

Or, those trolls actually believe that Apple will eventually listen on the forum. Nothing could be further from the truth. Apple employees are ordered not to interact there because of the whiny trolls. DUDE! You killed it for yourself! I don’t blame them. I don’t even want to talk much on the forum because they’re whiny trolls. At least on the Logic forum that I moderate, I can at least call them out on it and if they can’t justify their whine, I have no problems calling them a troll. If you have a legitimate complaint, that’s different. Heck, one dude is a high-powered rock audio engineer and when he complains, I listen. It doesn’t mean I take his complaints at face value, but I will go to him and try to flesh it out… and he does flesh it out! Funny enough, however, some of the same whiny trolls don’t bother using the “I’m switching to Pro Tools card” on my forum. Wonder why? Is it because Apple’s not there?

So, if you want to be a troll and complain for its own sake, you’ll never be happy even if Apple does fix the problem you’re experiencing. You simply love being a troll and your thrill is simply being miserable. However, if you want to make noise threatening to go to another piece of software, then dude, don’t go away mad… JUST GO AWAY!

And don’t let the door slam your rear-end on the way out!

The hardest part of a long weekend is starting back at work again

Subject says it all. Heck, if long weekends are meant to be relaxing so that we can come back to work refreshed and stuff, then why am I so worn out already and it is only 8:30am? Already, I cannot wait to go home and sleep. Heck, I just may catch a lunch time power nap. But, as it is, I feel like, despite the 8 or so hours of sleep I got, I feel like I didn’t get enough rest. It’s even worse when my body clock is going haywire, waking me up at all hours of the night. Sure, it got me up on time, but I’m already feeling short circuited. Then I have to drive to Woodbridge… which I am totally grateful that traffic was not seriously backed up.

Perhaps, the next long weekend I get, I should make it a point of working out a little more often. Perhaps, I will be a lot better relaxed if I do.

God must hate Queen Victoria…

Queen Victoria must have done something really bad to earn the wrath of the good Lord. Otherwise, it would rain even Victoria Day weekend in May. I have rarely ever seen a May 2-4 weekend where it doesn’t rain. It’s always bad on that particular long weekend. I don’t get it. If anything, it definitely spoiled our weekend plans to go to African Lion Safari and do a photo shoot there. If anything, it’s totally incomprehensible. Heck, our weekend barbeque was in the rain. Not that I mind the rain, but it was cold as well. The only thing that should be cold and wet on the May 2-4 weekend are the beverages!

Oh well… it just meant more time to clean out the studio, which I did. If anything, the area is all clean and ready for recording and jammin’. At least I’m happy with the way that turned out.

Even if it is cold and rainy…

Those Vocal Exercises Paid Off… I NAILED the track!

After the initial shock of realizing that making sure that I have done my rock ‘n’ roll duty before attempting those vocal exercises from “The Zen of Screaming”, I started reaping the benefits from practicing them in the car going to Toronto and coming back home. I know that I only have to do them once, but they help pass the time as I am driving along the 407. I went to lay down some vocal tracks last night seeing as Joelle was picking Jake up in Buffalo and was going to be late. If anything, the results were astounding. I nailed the freakin’ track… and this was one that was giving me a bit of trouble. It wasn’t a range problem, but it was a case of hitting the notes properly. If anything, I’d always be slightly underneath it. Not last night. I was bang on the note. I used the same “dump area” techniques as the exercises and just let it all out. It was like opening the faucet on full and letting it flow. If anything, I have just one more vocal track to put down, which is the harmony. If anything, I’m gonna go full force with this and make sure that both ends of the pipe are clean as I have a huge note to hit before the lead guitar break.

Funny how the lessons that my mother taught me about singing go hand in hand with what Melissa Cross states in her DVD. Listening to Melissa is almost like listening to my mother on this, except that I get one thing that I never got from my mom… exercises. Funny how she opens up the DVD saying that she’s not my mother… it’s almost like she could have been.

I can’t wait to get the last vocal track down tonight. Hand me the toilet paper and wish me luck!

Note to self: go to bathroom before practicing vocal exercises!

This morning, I learned just how powerful those vocal exercises from “The Zen of Screaming” really are. Using the diaphragm and pushing down… in other words, using the dump as Melissa Cross puts it, not only helps you achieve those big heavy notes, but if you don’t make sure to take care of your bathroom duties beforehand, you will definitely hit the brown note in your undies. If anything, I almost experienced this in the worst of all places… in the car on my way into Toronto this morning. Let’s face it: it never occurred to me before to either be mindful of our bodily functions or take a clean pair of undies if we’re going to do this without taking care of ourselves beforehand.

Fortunately, nothing happened. However, I am going to make sure that I am going to take “one for the road” before I go home and try the exercises along the 407. But hey, at least I know that I am using the right area and almost having the proof in the pants proves it.

Was there really a weekend?

It’s Monday already…

Last things I can really remember was coming home to a somewhat depressing birthday only to be followed by a somewhat fantastic wedding shoot on Saturday. I do remember taking Joelle out to a Mother’s Day brunch on Sunday, but I think I totally slept the rest of it away. That is, if I can call it sleep. I woke up sitting at my mixing station. I guess I was going to mix some music down. I knew that I had a drum mix and a vocal take that I was totally dissatisfied with and I was probably going to do something with those. However, that obviously never happened this weekend. The question is, “what really happened this weekend?”

All I can say is thank God for my love of photography (along with music). If it weren’t for being able to see the 1000+ pictures that I shot at that wedding, then I would have no memory at all of the weekend. Funny enough, I do remember the name of the wedding couple we shot…

Post-Birthday Depression… Feeling Worthless

Yesterday, it was my birthday and I was hopeful as I turn 45. Today, I am just plain depressed when I look at how bad it was. The only real gift I got was from God, knowing that I have outlived my dad by 3 years. Other than that, a close second was a new build of software to beta test tied with Henry giving me my present in July: tickets to see Rush in concert.

Not that I expect presents or anything, and I’m certainly not trying to be selfish… but when Joelle’s birthday comes up, I do what I can to make sure that her birthday is nothing but a complete happy day, regardless of what it takes… time, money or otherwise. Heck, I even rallied my kids last year to send me their weirdest photos and I made a comic book birthday card for Joelle for her birthday and affixed it to her presents. You’d think she would think, “what would make his day” when my birthday comes… but no! I’m often hiding her surprises for 2 weeks before her birthday, sneaking them into the house under her nose (sometimes, they are in front of her face and she doesn’t even notice and I know she’s not playing with me… 26 years of experience teaches me that). When her birthday comes, I go all out to make her feel wonderful for the day.

I’m lucky enough to get a card. If anything, it just made me feel like I’m not worth the effort. I’m not worth the planning or the time. If anything, I just happen to feel worthless in my own wife’s eyes. At the moment, I just feel totally shut down and want to crawl down into my little room and the basement and pray that I’m going to wake up any moment from this depressing dream. And to rub salt in the wound, here I am taking Henry to the Apple Store to get himself a brand new MacPro.

I doubt that anyone is going to even see this blog anyhow. Joelle will never look at this and know how I am feeling. It’s not like I can simply open up and talk to her… she doesn’t understand what goes on inside of me at times. My friends probably don’t read my blogs (they have their own lives… who am I to interfere). I cry alone. And today, life simply goes on as usual as we open wedding season with a photo shoot, so I have to bury my feelings and pray that I don’t implode.

I doubt that it could get any worse if a beautiful brunette or redhead danced all over my back wearing stilettos and a red dress. Then again, that would probably be the highlight of my birthday.

I want METAL!

Last night on my way home, the last part of my journey on the 401 took over an hour to get through. I’m talking about he 13Km stretch on the 401 between Guelph Line and Highway 6/Brock Rd. Worst part was that I had no idea it was going to be blocked beyond Guelph Line until I got there. Otherwise, I would have gotten off.

If anything, though, I wanted to personally thank the butthead who probably thought that driving 140Km/Hr in the blinding rain would never affect him or her. I wanted to thank him/her for making our one hour in the home stretch so long. I wanted to thank him/her for being the idiotic driver that (s)he was. I wanted to thank them for making not only the victim’s life a nightmare, but also ours just by being on the freakin’ road. If anything, I just wanted to show that much appreciation. Heck, I even wanted to take their picture and post it up on my blog… after all, it is our right as a Canadian.

But alas, when I got to the supposed area, nothing was there. No cars. No drivers. Not even a shard of broken glass of a headlight or a spillage of fluid (even oil leaves a residue trace in the rain). There was nothing! Zip!

That’s totally unfair! If I am going to be held up on the highway with nowhere to go for over an hour, I want to see some crushed vehicles. I want to see some dramatic car crash of metal on metal. I want to see some melting steel and gushing fluids. I want to see ambulances, fire trucks and at least two police cars. I want something to show for having to spend my extra time on the 401 on what should have been a 45 minute trip home. I want to see the face of the idiot who thoughtlessly took up my, and other people’s, time without even bothering to ask us if they could. Did I say thoughtlessly? I meant brainlessly!! I wanted the world to see what an idiot they were.

Heck, I got to see more action on the Greyhound.